What to do if I hired a contractor to redo my roof for me but they trashed my yard, broke my fence, broke my sky light and “lost” my dustpan?

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What to do if I hired a contractor to redo my roof for me but they trashed my yard, broke my fence, broke my sky light and “lost” my dustpan?

They are now claiming that it is not their fault that the sky light broke because the seal was worn. We just had the seal redone not all that long ago. They also said the sky light was already broken which was not true, we never had any water in it for how cracked it was. They are not going to replace it without charging us for a new one. Do I have any legal ground to stand on to get them to fix it without charging me for the new skylight?

Asked on June 29, 2014 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If contractors cause damage to your home either negligently (carelessly) or intentionally/deliberately, they are liable, or responsible to pay, for the damage. The issue often is one of fact: did they cause the damage, or did it occur for unrelated reasons, not their fault, while they were there? In your question, for example, they are disputing that they caused the skylight damage and claim the damage was pre-existing, which they would not be liable for.

If you believe they caused the damage and they will not pay voluntarily, you could sue them for the damage to the skylight and any other losses (e.g. fence; yard) they caused. To win, you would have to prove in court, such as through testimony, photographs, etc., that those items were not damage previously and the contractor caused the damage. Since lawsuits are never certain and have their costs (in terms of time, money, and aggravation), you may wish to try to settle--let them know you're willing to sue if necessary, but if they offer any reasonable portion of what you're seeking, accept that as a settlement to avoid litigation.


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